Montana residents will have likely heard about a limousine accident in New York that claimed 20 lives on the afternoon of Oct. 6. Questions were raised in the aftermath of the crash about the safety of stretch limousines, and accident investigators have learned that the Ford Excursion SUV involved was cited for a raft of brake violations in March. According to official records, the New York State Department of Transportation found no evidence that issues such as constricted brake connections had been repaired when the SUV was inspected again in September.
An attorney representing the limousine company involved conceded that the vehicle had failed a safety inspection, but he claimed that the failure was due to a number of minor faults such as a faulty windshield wiper and missing window latch. The attorney also claims that all of these problems had been addressed prior to the deadly accident. Officials dispute these statements and say that the limousine had been ordered out of service for serious safety violations.
The limousine’s driver and all of its 17 passengers were killed when the vehicle struck a stationary Toyota SUV in the upstate New York town of Schoharie. Two pedestrians also lost their lives in the accident. Media accounts reveal that the driver was not licensed to drive a vehicle containing so many passengers and had told his wife that the limousines he was given to drive were often in a dire state of repair. The National Transportation Safety Board and the New York State Police are assisting local law enforcement with the inquiry.
Experienced personal injury attorneys must prove that the defendants in wrongful death lawsuits failed to meet their duty of care to protect others from harm. In traffic accident cases, this may be done by presenting juries with evidence of neglected maintenance and shoddy repairs. When accident investigators do not inspect the vehicles involved, attorneys may order inspections of their own.